Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




In Skin, a polyphonous novel, a community of characters similarly metaphysically vexed and similarly grappling with issues of selfhood and identity intersect and catalyze in one another moments of recognition. These brief self-reckonings suggest to the characters that though the quest to discern their place in the universe is a plagued one, it is not without value as it at least results in faint glimmers of enlightenment. Ultimately, how ever, these flickerings of understanding inch the characters no closer to the big certainties they seek, and they therefore must determine that the process itself, or, more to the point, the relationships with others they refine or develop during their searching, is sustaining enough. The dialectic the book therefore seeks to investigate: matter versus spirit, the subsuming of one by the other, the melancholy of this. The vehicles for this investigation are the seven central characters of the book: Martin LeFavour, whose father, he believes, disappeared with a band of solicitous aliens in need of skin; Mrs. McCorkle, medicated visionary septuagenarian convinced she has euthanised her husband; Mr. Dorsett, Baptist deacon trying to square his past and heritage with the discomfiture of his present; Ivy Engel, 15-year-old girl in search of self arid love, advocate of bats, worried about the health of her best friend, Duncan, a recent victim of compression scars; Zero Loomis, plagued by sacrificial angels, the memory of his father, and a shadow y sexual identity; Rachel Loomis, sister to Zero, masseuse, determined to settle accounts with her past, with her father; Ruby Tuesday Loomis, daughter to Rachel, all curious promise and portentous future and victim of the histories that precede her. In the end, a voice of the collective unconscious of the community emerges, and all characters make some gesture toward a reconciliation with the troubled matter of them selves. Preceding the novel is an essay examining the different shapes of the figure of the female grotesque in daring writing by women.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Fiction Commons